The Hall of Fame class of 2018 is stocked full with players deserving to have their career enshrined on a plaque in Cooperstown. There are 33 candidates, including 19 players new to the ballot. One of the first ballot stars is third baseman Scott Rolen, and he is deserving of an induction into the halls of Cooperstown.
Making The Case: Scott Rolen and the 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot
There’s a whirlwind of debates regarding Hall of Fame voting, the obvious being the induction of PED users. Yet, there are other arguments that lump eligible players into this newfound, popular statement:
“This is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good.” – anonymous
Scott Rolen is one player whose name is often slandered by such a statement. Rolen was not just “very good,” he was a superstar, and one of the best all-around third basemen since the Baltimore Orioles Brooks Robinson.
A Five-Tool Star
The 1997 Rookie of the Year, seven-time all-star and eight-time gold glove recipient quietly dominated the sport from a stretch of 1996-2004. In that span, his average slash line was .286/.378/.520 and averaged a WAR of 5.1 per year. Rolen’s 226 home runs and 831 RBI made him an offensive catalyst for the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals.
Even with the offensive prowess, his superior tool was his glove.
In terms of defensive WAR, Rolen ranks fifth among third basemen of all-time with 20.6. The noteworthy names ahead of him feature the greatest defensive third baseman of all time, Brooks Robinson (38.8), future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre (27.8), and Buddy Bell (23).
Rolen’s defensive WAR ranks in the top fifty in baseball history.
His 17-year career was special and frankly could have been more spectacular if he wasn’t the victim of perpetual left-shoulder issues after colliding with a base runner in 2005.
The Argument For Scott Rolen
Unfortunately for Scott Rolen, he shares the ballot with fellow third basemen Chipper Jones, who will absolutely be inducted. Jones position on the ballot will likely overshadow Rolen’s pedigree.
Furthermore, the hot corner is simply not a position that fills the walls of Cooperstown. There are just 13 third basemen in the Hall of Fame, but Rolen quietly ranks among the best of them.
Take for example, Chicago Cubs legend and 2012 inductee, Ron Santo. Scott Rolen’s career output is strikingly similar to Santo’s. The slash line for Ron Santo was .277/.362/.464, while Rolen’s was .281/.364/.490. Rolen’s career WAR of 70 is only 0.4 less than the Cubs legend.
The last point I’ll make eludes to Jay Jaffe’s Hall of Fame scoring system called JAWS. It’s a basic system that takes into account a player’s career WAR and seven-year peak WAR, Rolen earned a score of 56.8. The average Hall of fame score for third basemen is 55.2.
Rolen’s JAWS rating surpasses six other third basemen who are currently in Cooperstown. The only non-Hall of Famer’s with a higher JAWS rating is Adrian Beltre and Chipper Jones, and both will almost certainly earn their place soon.
For Scott Rolen, he likely won’t be standing at a podium delivering his acceptance speech with his bronze plaque behind him next July. It’s doubtful that Rolen will be inducted the following year either. Instead, he may loom on the ballot for several years. Though at some point, Scott Rolen should be immortalized in Cooperstown, because his career is so much better than the “Hall of Very Good.”
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